Covid hospitalizations surge in New York City, but fewer patients are in the ICU

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  • The number of New Yorkers in hospitals with COVID-19 is increasing, but fewer in ICUs than in previous waves.
  • About 11% of all COVID patients in New York City hospitals are in the ICU, compared to 17% during the pre-COVID waves.
  • The total volume of patients combined with staff shortages means that hospitals can still feel pressured by a sharp spike in COVID-positive patients.

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The number of New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID-19 is increasing, but fewer of them are ending up in intensive care than in earlier waves - a sign that vaccines and potentially mild omicron versions are making people less sick .

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About 5,900 patients are hospitalized with Covid-19 in New York City, a 52% increase from last winter's peak of 3,900, which was reached on February 8, state figures via Wednesday show. There are currently 666 patients in ICU with COVID, however, down from last winter's high of 773.

New York, where cases have been rising to record levels for weeks, has emerged as the epicenter of the country's ommicron wave. The survival rate there is being closely watched as a possible indication of what might be happening, which, now the major strain across the country, takes hold in other places.

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Dr. Adele Basili-Marcus, an ICU specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, said her unit is operating "close to normal," even though the number of patients testing positive for the virus has increased significantly over the past month .

"We have an increasing number of ICU patients, but nowhere near what we saw in the first wave," he said. "It has increased somewhat compared to the total number of hospitalizations."

High vaccination rates in the area are keeping people from getting really sick, Basili-Marcus suggested. The Omicron variant may also be less virulent than previous strains, he said, helping to keep ICU visits down. Those who end up in ICUs at Mount Sinai are usually either illiterate or have underlying conditions that make them more prone to serious illness, he said.

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According to spokesman Joe Kemp, 9% of the more than 1,500 COVID patients at one of Northwell Health's 22 hospitals in the Greater New York City area are in the ICU. This figure was 16% when Northwell was handling the same number of COVID patients at this time last year.

One reason for the major disconnect between hospitalization and ICU patients is the increasing number of people who, due to high levels of viral transmission in the city, enter the hospital for something other than COVID and once admitted. test positive after. Kemp said about 40% of Northwell's 1,500 Covid patients fall into that category.

At NYU Langone Health, about 65% of COVID patients come to the hospital for something else, spokeswoman Lisa Greiner told CNBC in an email, adding that the number of patients admitted to the ICU for COVID is 58% from January 2021. is less. Level.

About 10% of the 1,000 COVID patients within the 10 campuses of the New York-Presbyterian hospital system are in the ICU, spokeswoman Maxine Mitchell-Ramsay told CNBC in an email. Compared to 20% of the 700 covid patients he has at this time last year. Less than half of the system's existing Covid patients were hospitalized for something other than Covid and tested positive in the hospital.

Across the city, the percentage of Covid patients hospitalized in ICUs is around 11%, according to a CNBC analysis of state data. During the earlier Covid waves, it never fell below 17%.

Hospitals may still feel pressured by the sharp spike in Covid-positive patients, despite the fact that some are less ill than before.

Bruce Y. Lee, professor of health policy and management at the City University of New York, said, "Even if you have a lot of people who don't need ICU-level care, it can still put pressure on the system." puts." York School of Public Health. Hospitals are still required to isolate these patients so that they do not infect others, and an increase in the total number of people hospitalized means an already exhausted staff is being stretched even further.

Many hospital workers are also being forced to quarantine themselves after being Kovid. Kemp said about 3% of Northwell's 78,000-person workforce is currently sick, but that the system has been managed by redeploying employees across departments and calling in workers from the internal temp agency. Dr Basili-Marcus said the staffing challenges at Mount Sinai are more significant than in earlier waves because of the infectivity of Omicron.

"We're managing it because we're used to it," he said, adding that "we know how to deal with a staff shortage."

New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said Press conference at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens on Wednesday, even though ICU stays make up a tiny fraction of the total.

"What we do know is that Covid-19 hospitalizations are increasing." They said. "The degree of severity is somewhat less than what we have seen in earlier waves, but we are also seeing an increase in ICU hospitalizations."


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